Non-domination and the libera res publica in Cicero's Republicanism

History of European Ideas 44 (6):756-773 (2018)
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ABSTRACTThis paper assesses to what extent the neo-Republican accounts of Quentin Skinner and Philip Pettit adequately capture the nature of political liberty at Rome by focusing on Cicero's analysis of the libera res publica. Cicero's analysis in De Republica suggests that the rule of law and a modest menu of individual citizens’ rights guard against citizens being controlled by a master's arbitrary will, thereby ensuring the status of non-domination that constitutes freedom according to the neo-Republican view. He also shows the difficulty of anchoring an argument for citizens’ full political participation in the value of non-domination. While Cicero believed such full participation was essential for a libera res publica, he, like other elite Romans, argued for participation on the basis of liberty conceived as the space to contend for and enhance one's social status. The sufficiency of the rule of law and citizens’ rights for securing a status of non-domination taken together with their insufficiency for ensuring a libera res publica suggests that neo-Republican accounts of liberty do not fully capture the idea as articulated in Cicero's Republicanism.



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Citations of this work

Freedom, ethical choice and the Hellenistic polis.Benjamin Gray - 2018 - History of European Ideas 44 (6):719-742.
Liberty, bondage and liberation in the Late Bronze Age.Eva von Dassow - 2018 - History of European Ideas 44 (6):658-684.

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